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Living with Integrity Lesson 5:
Honesty is the best policy. Who can deny that without surrendering his
or her integrity? Immanuel Kant famously said, “By a lie, a human being
throws away and, as it were, annihilates his dignity as a human being.”
Even so, our complex world has succeeded too often in framing honesty as a
profound dilemma. While slanderous lies and obstruction of justice in a court
of law are obvious wrongs, many instances of dishonesty do not effect such
dramatic consequences. Are they truly so terrible?
May we adjust the truth, perhaps by a small increment, in order to shield a
loved one from unnecessary hurt or to avoid an embarrassing admission of ignorance?
Can a repentant criminal lie in order to keep his past in the shadows?
Should it be deemed laudable to lie in order to protect children from frightening
information, or to keep heartbreaking news from an elderly and fragile
Can a mammoth untruth ever be justified? Do good intentions morally defend
This course is eligable for 9 CLE credits (7 1/2 ethics)